It’s that time of year again, when the daily drudgery of 9-5 becomes unbearable and you sit and stare at the inviting sun outside your office window fantasizing about getting some true R&R.

But let’s face it, most of those classic summer getaways don’t come cheap, especially when your savings have already been depleted by the endless slew of graduation parties, weekend get togethers, and weddings of the early summer months.

Don’t give up hope, there are still plenty of opportunities for rest and relaxation without blowing the budget. Here are some cheap summer vacation ideas to consider next time you find yourself day dreaming in the break room.

Day Trip

To keep vacations under budget, reduce or eliminate the housing expense. Rather than booking one or two solid weeks and coughing up hundreds of dollars in hotel stays, stick to one or two day getaways. The fewer overnights, the more savings.

You’re more likely to tough it out in a cheap hostel or crash on a couch when you know you’re just looking to lay your head down for a few hours. Extended stays typically require spaces with more privacy and amenities, both of which come at a higher cost.


 As a compromise between day tripping and a full-blown hotel stay, consider camping. Getting out of town and getting disconnected can be wonderfully liberating and cost effective. Not only are campgrounds significantly cheaper than even the lower end hotels, they’re often beautifully located nearby many low cost and free activities like hiking trails, lakes for swimming, etc.

Public Transit Getaways

Consider leaving your ride at home and using public transit for your next getaway. Save on the cost of gas and the wear and tear on your vehicle by checking out nearby train and bus routes. This is also a great way to discover new places in the surrounding area. You’d never know that you could hike the Appalachian Trail just by taking a quick train ride from New York City!

National Parks

Keep it domestic and visit one of the majestic 401 National Parks throughout the United States, 268 of which are free. Visit on August 25th, the birthday of the National Park Service, and get free admission to any park in the country, including the high profile Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Grand Canyon.

Go Local

Be a tourist in your own town. By saving on all the typical travel expenses, namely transit and housing, you can splurge on activities, food, and drinks. Check out free public events in your area, visit an attraction you’ve only heard about or enjoyed from a distance, or go on a mini food tour of all the restaurants you’ve yet to try in your home town!

Veg Out

Sometimes doing nothing is the best vacation there is. Sleep in, catch up on your favorite Netflix series, finally finish reading the latest best selling book series, actually make time to hang out with your best friend, etc.

A weekend or even a full week “in” can be just what you need to recharge and relax without the hefty price tag of an all-inclusive beach vacay or an exotic international holiday.

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